01 Jun An Afternoon in Nara
After visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine in the morning, we spent the afternoon in Nara. We had left our stroller at the hotel while at Fushimi Inari. As we would be walking on flat ground in Nara, we decided to take the stroller this time. After a little rest and eating lunch in the hotel, we headed back out. This time we went to the nearby Gojo station and took the Karasuma line to Kintetsu Nara station. The journey took about 50 minutes.
We started walking towards Nara park and Fletcher fell asleep in his stroller. We got to an intersection where the park entrance was to our left, but because Fletch was still sleeping we continued straight. This took us onto a gravel path that went through a forest area. I believe the path eventually led to shrines but we only went as far as a small store and bought a drink from a vending machine outside. I chose a drink that became a favourite when out walking around. It was named Aquarius and the first time I’d chose one thinking it was water, but it was actually a slightly flavoured sports type drink. It was really refreshing.
Fletcher had woken up so we headed over to Nara park to see all the deer. We had already seen deer roaming around, but the ones at Nara park would come up close as they were used to being fed here. We paid a lady near the entrance and got a bag of crackers to feed to the deer. Our crackers were gone pretty quickly, but we spent a bit of time just watching the deer. Fletcher loved running around and having the deer coming up close to us. We were careful to stay close to him as we had seen the signs warning that the deer could get aggressive. The ones around us were all very tame though. There were a couple of school aged boys teasing some deer and making them chase them.
We left the group of deer and went to visit Todaiji Temple, which is located within the park grounds. Before reaching the main building of Todaiji, we walked up the steps and passed through the large wooden Nandaimon Gate.
Inside Todaiji is one of Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statues or Daibutsu in Japanese. Todaiji’s main hall that houses the giant Buddha was, until 1998 the largest wooden building in the world.
There are also other statues in the building and a model of the Todaiji Temple complex. In the back part of the building, there is a large wooden post with a square hole at the bottom, going from one side through to the other. The hole is the same size as the big Buddha’s nostril, and it is said that those who can fit through will be granted spiritual enlightenment.
The school groups
The crowds we came across most during our Japan trip were school groups. The first time we encountered the large groups was when we were in Nara, and they were high school students. Luckily we were just ahead of them, so we’d already had a good look at the big Buddha statue when they started to gather in the main hall.
Nara to Kyoto
We left Todaiji and walked back to Kintetsu Nara station. We were too late for the train we had in mind. When we noticed a covered shopping street next to the station we walked in for a little look. We bought a large pack of nappy pants from a drugstore before entering the station and getting a train heading to Kyoto Station. We panicked a little upon realising we were on-board an express train that required reserved seats, because we had entered using only our ICOCA cards. When the man came to check tickets, we simply purchased the extra ticket we needed from him. We were then glad we had made the mistake as it meant we would get into Kyoto earlier. I really enjoyed the charming feeling of Nara and could have easily spent more time exploring the city.
We got into Kyoto just before 6pm and it was pitch black. We got our first pre-made meals from the convenience store. Japanese convenience stores are simply awesome! Then we crossed the road back to our hotel for a well needed rest.
We loved our afternoon in Nara and in 2016 returned to show my parents the beautiful city. Read our second day trip to Nara here.